It’s well known that games are an awful mistake that should have never been unleashed on an unsuspecting humanity. That said, here’s five that hushed the howling primates that reside in my skull just long enough for me to consider them a worthwhile investment.
Honorable mentions go to Cultist Simulator (For it’s alchemical harmony of theme and mechanics), Vermintide 2 (for being the second best Lord of the Rings game ever made) and Prey: Mooncrash (For being more Prey). Not in order of goodness:
Subset’s stompy boy chess set - with its sparse, Avellone-penned vignettes - was fairly light on story. Still, a big part of why I love Into the Breach was its understated, system-led narratives. Ben Prunty’s excellent soundtrack played a big part in setting the mood, but I think the game’s biggest achievement was offering up emergent tales of heroic sacrifice despite having basically no random elements. Stomp on, my stompy sons.
It’s probably not quite as good as the 2016 one, but whatever. In amongst all the fawning over God of War - a game so terrified the player might rebel against its director-ordained experience that it broke its own cameraman’s neck - more Hitman, with its homicidal, multi-solution Lucasarts adventure meets stealthy puzzle box gameplay, was just what the suspiciously bald doctor ordered.
Beautiful world. Gargantuan fights. Obscenely generous content update schedule. Cute cats. But I also love that Monster Hunter: World exists because it’s produced some of the best games criticism I’ve read this year. It’s somehow both colorful, wholesome fun and an extremely dodgy celebration of human exceptionalism and colonialism. Combine this with the lifestyle game elements, and it’s probably the most 2018 game that came out this year.
This gorgeous Ghibli-esque platformer didn’t seem to make all that much noise, and that’s a dang shame, because it was both lovely and poignantly grim. The art makes no bones about its homage, and neither the platforming or puzzles are particularly noteworthy, but Forgotton Anne’s unique setting is so inventive, heartfelt and tragic that it left a real impression on my cynical, tattered soul.
I’ve said most of what I have to say about this grimy masterpiece elsewhere, but in short: Paratopic is great because it’s just as versed in the history of the FPS as it knows the player is, and it’s intent on using all the knowledge you’ve built up over the years to mess with your fragile mindhole. Chilling, subversive, thoroughly confident stuff, and a perfect example of art using its budgetary constraints to wonderful effect.
As a cheeky bonus, the worst game of the year was Jurassic World: Evolution, because it took both dinosaur park management and Jeff Goldblum and managed to make them tedious. Boo. As an additional, cheekier bonus, the actual best game of the year was Bloodborne, which was made available on Playstation Now this year, meaning PC folk can finally experience the only good video game ever made™. Nope, I don’t know why RPS asked me to do this either.